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Lecture 4

ECH 3310 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Primordialism, Instrumentalism

Conflict Studies and Human Rights
Course Code
ECH 3310
Jean- Francois Ratelle

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ECH3310 Lecture 4 - Jan 23, 2015
Grand Theories regarding ethnicity
- This weeks articles/readings are important for paper and exam. ( week of 20/23)
New way of studying violence. Studying root cause is not studying ethnic violence
- you have theories that explain why ethnicity becomes important and why the frame
their struggles through ethnicity but they can not explain why we go to war and will kill
over ethnicity
- Ethnic violence vs. ethnic conflict
Latin makes a strong case of instrumentalism. How elites use ethnicity for their cause.
Instrumentalism pretty much only uses top down approach . Top down analysis of
identity …. Ethnicity and identity is socially constructed .
Challenges to instrumentalism
- not that identity cant be top down
- Can you decide to change your ethnicity and not participate in ethnic violence
- Can there be bi standards in a case of genocide
- Rwanda – were all Hutus radical ? how much and how did they participate. What is
the social profile of perpetrator and bystanders ?
- master narrative is still ethnicity a vs ethnicity b
- How do you move away from this master narrative
- NO Instrumentalists anymore
- No such thing of culture of violence and deep ethnic hatred from beginning of
- Latin says that it is one thing not to be a instrumentalist and another to say that
these understandings can be used to understand everyday life…. A genocide doesn’t
mean anything until we made it mean something.. WE had to define it as genocide.
- Labels on violence are important.
- Especially the interpretations
- Actors will give value to certain acts of violence because of certain frame works
- Ex. Two different ethnicity get into a bar fight – can be labeled as religion,
political, ethic , ……
- Everyone will look at the act differently
- Most are elements of study.
- There is no such thing as truth or one interpretation of one act of violence
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- The physical aspect of violence has not changed but the framing does (ie. 90 =
ethnicity , now =religion)
How to study ethnic conflict
- Structural causes explaining general causes of ethnic conflict
oSecurity dilemma
oRational choice
oChange in collective
oFear and security dilemma can not explain every act of violence .. . it can give a
generalization or a common ground around ethnic conflict …. But does not give a
universal reading of violence
o If you try and create a frame work that tries to explain too much you will have null
oneed to find something that has survived different approaches. Large N
- Ethnic conflict can be seen as an independent variable
oConsequences of ethnic conflict
oConflict might be the variable creating ethnic conflict
oViolence might not be the product. Violence might have the effect on identity not
vice versa. Because of suffering and such matters. Conflict brings the ethnicity problem
oActors may use war to put own interest before the political aspects
oThe causal aspect could be the IV or DV or both
- Challenges is that we have a lot of cases
- Violent examples; Rwanda, Sri Lanka, Kosovo
- Non violent; Quebec, Belgium , Estonia
- Non violent to violent conflict; Eastern Ukraine .
oWhy did it take 20 years
oWhy do certain cases not fit theoretical frame work and why do others take 20-30
years to fall into the violence we are excepting. Further, why not earlier/later. Why is it
peaceful now
oProblem with ethnic violence is that they are often unexpected and difficult to
predict .
- The study of violence should be emancipated from the study of conflict
oCase of conflict are not causes of violence
- Not because you joining terrorist organization that you will become a terrorist….
Its is not because you travel to Syria that you become a foreign fighter
- Need to explain the non case.
- The explanation of violence is more than explain the case but why it sometimes
doesn’t work
- Explaining the root cause of violence
oStrategic actions by elites….Very few republics have seen new political elites…
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